Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Debating the Invasion of Iraq

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, 3 questions have been posted for all people who supported the Iraq War at the time.

They are:
First, assuming that you were in favor of the invasion of Iraq at the time of the invasion, do you believe today that the invasion of Iraq was a good idea? Why/why not?

Second, what reaction do you have to the not-very-upbeat news coming of Iraq these days, such as the stories I link to above?

Third, what specific criteria do you recommend that we should use over the coming months and years to measure whether the Iraq invasion has been a success?


As I did, and still do support, the Iraqi war of liberation, here's my best shot.

Firstly, I still believe the invasion of Iraq was a good idea for many reasons, and these include
* It brought instability to the middle east.. this is a GOOD thing. When a region is ruled by violent dictators and monarchs, who pursue weapons and fund terrorism against the West, "stability", or as I prefer to call it, the status quo, is a bad thing.
* Saddam was a brutal and irrational dictator who needed to be contained by equally brutal sanctions that were a form of collective punishment on the Iraqi people. The death toll since the first gulf war has been tremendous and the previous situation was for more inhumane than the current violence.
* It broke the illusion that rogue dictators can hide/delay/stall behind lengthy rounds of diplomacy, and showed once again, the shortcoming of the UN - namely that the UN security council will never authorise force to back up any of its security resolutions.
* I still believe that within months, he could have developed WMDs seeing as he already had the scientists and technology to renew his missile development program.
* It sends a strong warning message to other belligerent rogue states.

Secondly, the current news of violence and bombings in Iraq is serious indeed. I believe that a large share of the blame lies with neighboring states like Syria, or more probably Iran who desire to see Iraq end up in the same way, and be ruled by religious fundamentalists who will harbour terrorists such as Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda, and be hostile towards Israel and the West. The beheadings have shown that indeed Al-Qaeda is active inside Iraq and have some infrastructure there. Whilst the challenge is formidable, I believe the US military and Iraqi police can handle the situation if they respond with more force against the perpetrators.

Thirdly, over the coming months, it would be foolish to expect a cessation of violence or of suicide bombings. The best that Iraq could hope for, is to have a semi-stable society similar to Israel. Once a few years pass, the enemies of the current Iraqi government, who carry out the random bombings against civilians, will realise that they cannot bring about an Islamic revolution, or depose the current government, and the violence may subside.

Here are some of my criteria for the Iraq war:

* The level of violence must decline over the coming months. Random suicide bombings will still occur but insurgencies and attacks against US soldiers, coming from certain towns and villages, should be put down.
* Building democratic institutions over the next 3 years
* Continual improvement in basic living standards and economic growth.

Also, there are other criteria about the positive effect that the war can have on the region, and on the impact global terrorism has, that will boost my support for the war. These include
* Spreading of democracy, or even instability, to authoritarian regimes like Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia.
* Spreading of secular education and a free media to these countries
* The development of a thriving Kurdish region in the north of Iraq.
* If other belligerent states increase their compliance with the UN or through diplomatic channels, as both Libya (who abandoned their WMD program) and Syria (who are pressured to end the occupation of Lebanon) have shown.

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